Einvironmental Biotechnology. Graphic: Cast GmbH & Co. KG on behalf of UFZ

Department of Molecular Environmental Biotechnology (MEB)

The department investigates microbially catalysed processes in natural and technical environments and characterizes their molecular basis. We search for responsible organisms, enzymes, and encoding genes in soils, wastewater and (constructed) wetlands. We look at the transformation of environmental chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, plastics, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals but also on the formation and degradation of natural compounds e. g. soil organic matter. We develop tools to monitor, model and control such processes and provide management options for end users and regulators.

Major research topics are:

  • Microbial process analyses using isotope tracer compounds, determination of mass balances, molecular biology, biochemistry, modelling, and reactor design, incl. development of a methodological platform for molecular analysis of enzymatic functions at low abundances
  • Technical application of microbial processes
  • Fate of chemicals in water, soil, and sediments
  • Transformation of micropollutants in waste water and constructed wetlands
  • Anaerobic oxidation of ammonium in wastewater
  • Degradation of plastics – bacteria, enzymes, products
  • Microbial respiration with halogenated compounds (solvents, pesticides, X-ray contrast media); biochemical characterization of membrane-bound metalloprotein complexes